Genesis 3:1-4 (NIV) — “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruits from the trees in the garden, but God did say, You must not eat fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ‘You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman.”
This passage of Scripture has so much in it that is excellent for preaching and teaching.
There are plenty of excellent sermons, Bible studies and, of course, daily devotions committed to sharing and advocating the Biblical principles within this passage.
As for this article, what caused me to pick this passage today was a verse in Ephesians 6:11 (NIV) — “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
What was quickened to my mind was the King James Version (KJV), which was the first Bible I started with. In those early days of my Christian walk, I had no idea there were other translations of the Bible. I absolutely had no idea of Strong’s Concordance or the multitude of commentaries.
So, quickened to my mind was the KJV of Ephesians 6:11 — “Wiles of the devil” rather than NIV’s “schemes of the devil.”
Every once in a while, I’ll see a quip reposted on Facebook that says, “Don’t judge others because they sin differently than you.”
So, between that quip and the verse in Ephesians, it was “cause for a pause, a moment of meditation,” which is how I came to meditate on Genesis 3.
It was the term “wiles” that held my attention. I realize schemes and wiles have basically the same meaning in a translation sense. Both words describe the action or intent to trick or deceive someone.
But I instinctively know there’s a great difference, regardless of how subtle that difference is.
In Genesis 2:15-17 (NIV) the actual word to Adam was, “The Lord God took man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’”
So, who are you going to believe? God, who said you would surely die; or Satan, who said, “You will not die”?
Let’s consider Eve’s situation. She wasn’t even there when the Lord God gave Adam the command. In Genesis 2:17, Adam receives the word, “you must not.” Eve isn’t created until verse 2:22.
Chapter 3 starts off with two main characters: the serpent and the woman Eve.
Right at the start, the serpent is identified as crafty. The definition of crafty is, “clever at achieving one’s aims by indirect or deceitful methods.”
Some may consider Eve, naïve, which is actually a wonderful trait: a person lacking in experience and is free from any cunning or treacherous thoughts (schemes or wiles).
So the stage is set. The innocent is trapped — deceived — in sin by her own words when she added to the Word of the Lord God. In Genesis 3:3b — “and you must not touch it, or you will die.”
The childhood illustration of the lesson “HOT! Don’t touch the hot burner!” results in immediate, tangible results — pain is the great persuader. But Eve didn’t physically die when she saw, reasoned, touched and ate the fruit.
If you continue to read the full passage of the fall, you’ll see the death of Eve and Adam’s innocence.
“Surely you will die.” Hence the need to be born again: John 3:3 — “Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again.’”
As I mentioned, I consider there to be an important distinction between schemes and wiles. For example: Lustful wiles bring to my mind an element of seduction.
The story of Pinocchio may seem like a stretch, but all the elements are there: the crafty fox, and the naïve and innocent puppet led into beliefs and actions contrary to what was known to be right (the wiles of seduction).
I do believe it’s possible to give the devil too much credit for our own actions. But like Eve, we’re exposed to the “seeds of thought” that lead to the possibilities of the seven deadly sins.
In 2 Corinthians 2, there is some powerful instruction with pointed purpose. Allow me to focus on the 11th verse, “In order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not aware of his schemes.”
Now that same verse from the King James Version: “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
I was taught many things when I was a youngster, things and beliefs that I simply accepted. When I became an adult, I set many of those things aside. When I became a Bible-believing Christian, I set almost all those things aside.
Biblically speaking, previously I was taught, but I was taught wrong!
Be wise: Who are you going to believe?